Sandy Balls or Forest Holidays Blackwood Forest - help me decide!

(21 Posts)
somanymiles Wed 06-Nov-13 14:48:42

My Mum has kindly offered to pay for us to take the kids way for next half term to a cabin in the forest. So it will be me, Mum, a DS1 (14 yrs), DD (11 yrs) and DS2 (3 yrs) plus possibly DH if he can get time off work.

I am looking at Sandy Balls (in the New Forest) and Forest Holidays (Blackwood Forest location). Blackwood Forest is £176 more expensive for the same size cabin, although the Blackwood Forest one has a hot tub. They both seems to have lots of activities - is there something I am missing? Can Forest Holidays be that much better than Sandy Balls? Can anyone recommend one over the other? I am leaning towards Sandy Balls although there was a lovely review of Forest Holidays in The Guardian over the summer that made it sound very nice indeed.

somanymiles Wed 06-Nov-13 14:49:37

Oh, and I should say if someone has a different suggestion within driving distance of South London I am open to it!

straggle Fri 29-Nov-13 23:26:46

I like the idea of Forest Holidays with the forest ranger and guided night walks and all that! And you can do Go Ape there as well, can't you?

toomuchtooyoung Thu 05-Dec-13 16:06:35

we had a long weekend at sandy balls last may bank holiday. opted for a premium lodge and glad we did just for the view alone. didn't make use of pool, was very busy and not that big. hired bikes and went to explore, only a few main roads to negotiate
easy to get to, lots to explore. there's a farm nearby somewhere highly recommend

Chocolatestain Sun 05-Jan-14 23:30:09

Can't be of any practical help, but Sandy Balls will offer lots of holiday innuendo opportunities wink

I know nothing about the forest holidays but a friend stayed at Sandy Balls in the summer and loved it.

Its not far from a place called Moors Valley Country Park which we have been to on many occasion. It has a play trail that has big wooden structures to climb/explore lovely woodland walks, bike hire, a miniture steam railway and go ape treetop course thing as well as Segway hire! They also have activities going on during the half terms.
Also Salisbury is quite a pleasant City/large town with the most amazing Cathedral and a lovely little museum. With Old Sarum and Stonehenge not far from there.

MrsAmaretto Tue 07-Jan-14 22:29:05

We stayed at a forest holidays in Scotland recently. I'd pay the extra for the hot tub smile My 3year old & adult relatives loved it & we used it every evening

WhenDoISleep Tue 07-Jan-14 22:33:17

Watching with interest - we have been to Sandy Balls twice and are looking at Blackwood Forest this year.

MacaYoniandCheese Tue 07-Jan-14 22:34:39

There's not really a place called Sandy Balls is there shock grin ? The mind boggles at the comedic opportunities...

ouryve Tue 07-Jan-14 22:34:47

Sandy ball, just for the postcard opportunities grin

I've been looking at Blackwood Forest too, but was a bit shock when I costed up a short break for October half term. We're looking for somewhere we can go with other families but I don't think I dare suggest it TBH. Also, it's quite near us, so nothing nearby that we can't do as a daytrip. Might look into Sandy Balls, but it's further for the other families.

Sandy balls is much better value than Forest Holidays imo. We've been several times for an easy stressfree break and have always had a fab time (am not a holiday village type person normally)

MegBusset Tue 07-Jan-14 22:38:04

I love Sandy Balls, we're going for the fourth time at Easter. The other one looks nice but the activities seem really expensive? At SB they're just a few quid.

x-post whoknows, Sandy balls is lovely I'd definitely recommend it smile

WallyBantersJunkBox Tue 07-Jan-14 22:46:35

I actually did a Retail Strategy kick off in Sandy Balls. grin

It was great. Nice cabins, very well equipped and lovely surroundings. They had a decent amount on the park to do, a nice cafe, bar, restaurant etc.

I'd recommend.

I've stayed in a Forest Holidays (Golden Oak I think) lodge, but in North Yorkshire. Bitterly, bitterly disappointed. Jacuzzi stank of bleach and was freezing, cabin storage heaters not turned on, pet hair everywhere, kitchen and fridge filthy, no tea towels, not enough crockery and cutlery, TV channels not working, vertical blinds hanging off the windows, cigarette butts all over the balcony.

The shop was extortionate and after a few walks it wasn't that interesting for kids. Service was terrible, DH left his iPod on the kitchen counter and the cleaner denied all knowledge of it.

I think the idea of them was great, but they just can't manage the upkeep and maintenance.

I would read the trip advisor feedback on the particular forest site quite carefully. I wish I had. sad

wonderstuff Tue 07-Jan-14 22:53:54

I stayed at Blackwood, it's just down the road, we were there for a weekend, and I think you might run out of things to do over a week. The cabins are lovely, though we didn't have a tub, but the site is fairly small. Having said that we didn't do many extra activities, they were a bit pricey and I think my kids, 5&2, were a bit young.

I've heard great things about Sandy Balls.

diplodocus Tue 07-Jan-14 22:57:15

Agree with wonderstuff - haven't stayed at Blackwood but I walk the dog there. It's lovely, and the staff are great and very friendly but not much to do apart from walking / cycling / drinking coffee in the nice but expensive cafe.

seafoodudon Wed 08-Jan-14 14:44:21

Watching with interest as I'm also considering both Sandy Balls and Forest Holidays for our Summer holiday this year. Our DC lovely swimming, and they're quite little, so at the moment Forest Holidays are further down the list for lack of pool and less play facilities (esp indoor bits and pieces). Really interested to hear experiences of those who've actually been though!

cestlavielife Wed 08-Jan-14 16:18:01

SB good. but the thing i didnt like about sandy balls was having to book one hour slots for the pool (tho it was included in price of course) - and having to rush to queue for a wriost band one hour before the time you wanted to swim as that was when they were released. dont know if that has changed.

cestlavielife Wed 08-Jan-14 16:18:39

for a good pool you cant beat center parcs...

MegBusset Wed 08-Jan-14 19:26:17

Yes the pool wristband system at SB is really stupid and frustrating (assuming still in place). Tbh while perfectly functional, the pool there is not brilliant and if swimming is a big focus you may be better at Center Parcs. My DC aren't bothered about swimming on holiday so it's not really an issue for us.

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